Burlington has shortest ER wait in Halton, Oakville among longest in Ontario


Published December 8, 2023 at 12:17 pm

If you need to see a doctor in a hurry in Halton, the best place to go is Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington.

According to the Auditor General’s annual report on emergency departments in Ontario, the shortest wait among Halton’s four hospitals is Burlington, at 1.4 hours.

Close behind is Milton District Hospital at 1.5 hour average wait time.

The average wait at Georgetown Hospital is an hour longer, at 2.5 hours.

The longest wait in the region is at Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital at 3.3 hours, which ranks 119th out of the 124 hospitals listed.

The wait times are based on emergency departments and urgent care centres that report wait-time information to Ontario Health. Some small hospitals are not currently required to report such information.

The report was tabled in the Ontario Legislature earlier this week by acting auditor general Nick Stavropoulos.

“Each year, the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario undertakes value-for-money audits to assess the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of public programs and services delivered by ministries, agencies and the broader public sector,” said Stavropoulos.

“Through this work we provide these entities and the Legislative Assembly with fact-based information along with practical recommendations for improvements. By reporting on our work to the Legislature, our Office contributes to collective efforts to continuously improve the public and broader public sectors while helping to hold organizations accountable for the programs and monies they manage.”

The report found that, while patients requiring immediate life-saving care are able to access the system in a timely manner, emergency departments have otherwise often struggled to provide timely and high-quality care, with patients having to wait on average two hours just to be assessed by a physician.

Some emergency department patients who require an inpatient bed have had to wait more than 24 hours, and many continue to be treated in emergency department hallways when space is not available. Strains in the system and long wait times have resulted in delayed or missed diagnoses, leading to patients returning to the emergency department in worse health

The report says aait times to see a physician spiked and varied significantly from region to region. While wait times to see a physician were relatively stable prior to 2020, there was a significant increase following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patients waited an average of 118 minutes after being triaged to receive their physician initial assessment in emergency departments in 2022/23, approximately 30 minutes longer than the wait time in 2013/14.

It was also noted the average wait time for a physician initial assessment varied widely by region and by hospital. For example, patients living in the Champlain region waited 169 minutes, or more than twice as long as patients living in the Central region, where average wait times were 79 minutes.

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